Author: Dan Brown
Page Count/Review Word Count: 624
You pretty much know what you’re getting when you pick up a Dan Brown novel, and this was certainly very typical of both his story lines and his writing style. Although it did make me laugh when Robert Langdon was astonished that strange things were happening and it’s literally the fourth time he’s been on a ridiculous adventure so you’d think by now he might be more used to it.
In the start of this book, he wakes up with amnesia, and he has to slowly start rebuilding his memory while going off on an international treasure hunt with a pretty and intelligent younger woman by his side. Considering that the amnesia part is the only bit that’s really new here, I would’ve hoped for it to have been done better. It just felt a little bit gimmicky and it was clearly there only to serve the story and to heighten the sense of tension.
If anything, I think that’s what was putting me off at the start of this. In fact, I switched it out as a bedtime book because I didn’t really want to read it, but after I hit around the 200 page mark I found that I was actively involved in the story, which made finishing it off pretty fun. In fact, I thought it was going to be a 3-star book throughout, then it crept up to a 3.25/5 and finally a 3.5/5 because of the ending. But I don’t want to spoil that for you.
What I will say, though, is that the book asks some pretty interesting questions that I found it fun to think about even when I wasn’t reading it. The plot basically revolves around a sort of bioterrorism threat, except that the rationale behind the threat is eerily sane. Basically, a misguided evil genius thinks that the ongoing exponential population growth means that the planet is doomed, and his solution is to genetically engineer a virus that tackles the problem.
Of course, he’s also a bit of a Dante nut, which is where Inferno comes in. The good news is that Dante’s work is so iconic that it’s inspired rafts of art and literature and so there’s plenty of source material for him to tap into to create his scavenger hunt. And it also helps that Dante was a pretty interesting figure in his own right.
Then there are things that are pros and cons, such as the way that it feels as though you’re learning stuff while you’re reading this, which I’m all for. The problem is that Brown is sometimes heavy-handed with the exposition, and on top of that there are things that he presents as facts but which I already know are just urban legends. I only remember coming across two of them, and both of them were couched in language like “people say” or “according to legend”, but they still annoyed me and sort of broke my trust in the rest of what he said.
So that brings us on to the ultimate question of whether I’d recommend this one, and the best answer that I have is “I guess”. It was just okay, but if you’ve made it this far through the Dan Brown books then you might as well keep going. It’s not like there’s a dip in quality or anything, it’s just that after a while his work starts to feel formulaic. But that’s probably because it is, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
All in all then, I’m glad I finally got to this and that I’ve ticked it off, but I doubt I’ll ever re-read it.